Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...

This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.

Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.

Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.

I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.

In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.

I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CCA prison for children of Pima County.

My condolences to the children of Sunnyside Unified School District. I wish we had something better to pass on to all of AZs children than their bread or a bed at a for-profit prison, but that appears to be the way we're headed...

Unless more people like this Elias fellow run for office. He's given this some thought and done his research.

Private prison gets Pima County OK

Posted: Jun 15, 2010 7:36 PM EDT

Updated: Jun 15, 2010 11:22 PM EDT

By Barbara Grijalva

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - The state and federal prisons southeast of Tucson soon will have some company.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) wants to build and run a private prison on private land just south of the Arizona State Prison Complex which is at 10000 South Wilmot Road.

The difference will be that the private prison will pay property taxes.

The Southside Neighborhood Association is all for that, and a representative told the Pima County Supervisors so.

Yolanda Herrera explained the group's support.

"Primarily because we understand this prison is going to be built someplace in Arizona, so why not in Pima County where we have the opportunity to create another additional 900 jobs and to have a better tax base for the Sunnyside Unified School District," she said.

A CCA representative told the supervisors the prison would pay about $3.9 million in taxes every year.

He said the Sunnyside Unified School District would get about two million dollars of that.

On a four-to-one vote, the supervisors approved rezoning 391 acres for the prison.

The "one" is Richard Elias who says he philosophically opposes private prisons.

But he says he also has reservations about CCA's record running prisons in the U.S., including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Eloy, north of Tucson.

He read statistics on deaths in CCA-operated prisons, and cited other issues.

"I understand that specific incidents take place, but when you look at them in an aggregate form, I think you're talking about a situation that does not serve our community well. Those are jobs that are very important to us, but they may not be the best kind of jobs for our citizens to have," Elias said.

CCA told KOLD News 13 that the next step is to contract with the state or the federal government, or both, to house up to 5,000 prisoners at the new facility.

No word yet on when the prison would be built.